What to report

Douglas County Amateur Radio Emergency Service is dedicated to public service and support of our served agencies. One of the primary functions in this area is participation as weather spotters. Note that this is the only emergency where self-activation is permitted. Once you hear of severe weather in your area, you should monitor 146.940 and give your report to the Net Control Operator.
If you observe severe weather and there is no net, please use the information you received at spotter training to report directly to the NWS office.

The most important requirement of weather spotting and reporting is SPEED, ACCURACY and VERIFICATION.

SPEED…is needed to offer ample warning time to areas in the path of an impending severe storm. Reporting visual sightings as quickly as possible allows the NWS to expedite the warning process.

With the advancement of the more sophisticated radar, complemented by the visual information of trained SKYWARN spotters, lives and property can be saved not only in your community but also in other counties and communities in the storm’s path.

ACCURACY..is important because the equipment and information available to the NWS are not always sufficient to determine the on site conditions of severe weather. NWS personnel depend on trained local observers (spotters) to identify, report, and verify conditions in their area.

VERIFICATION…is needed after the weather event has passed. Spotters are trained to report any visual items that meet severe storm damage criteria for verification of the NWS warnings. It’s no wonder why the NWS refers to amateur radio weather spotters as “the eyes of the National Weather Service”.

Note that our mission is slightly different that the mission of SKYWARN. The National Weather Service only wants to have reported:


TORNADO Always Call Tornado Warning Issued. Look for debris on the ground
FUNNEL CLOUD/ WALL  CLOUD Always Call Look for organized persistent sustained rotation
HAIL Call if Half-inch size or larger** Severe thunderstorm Warning Issued: 1 inch diameter or larger. Always report he largest size hailstone
WIND GUSTS Call if 50 mph or higher Severe Thunderstorm Warning Issued: Sustained 40 mph. gusts to 58 mph or greater. Specify esitmate or measurement
HEAVY RAIN/ FLOODING 1.0” rain/hr or greater for urban areas. 1.5” rain/hr or greater for rural areas. Also call 911 for flooding Flash Flood Warning issued: Flooding that impacts roads homes or businesses.
STORM DAMAGE Always Call Damage to structures (roof siding windows etc). Damage to vehicles (from hail or wind). Trees or large limbs down. Power/telephone poles or lines down. Damage to farm equipment machinery. Or any other significant damage.